THE GUITARIST by Lindy S. Hudis
Review by Cherry Cox
The Guitarist is a short story about ‘guitar god’ Diego Ortega, the lead guitarist in a 1980s hard rock band called Medieval Steel. (The story is set in the 80s but we only know it’s the 80s because the blurb tells us that. There is nothing in the story itself that actually frames the time period for us.)
Medieval Steel are on tour but Diego is unhappy. He has a love/hate relationship with touring and grows weary of the endless parade of brazen (and annoying) groupies who just want to get into his pants.
When the band rolls into a small unnamed town, Diego goes for a walk and spots a vintage guitar in the window of an antiquated music a store. Despite the shop owner’s warning that the instrument is cursed, Diego buys it.
Diego becomes increasingly obsessed with the guitar, and with a mysterious woman who comes into his room every night to ‘make love’ to him.
Just in case you’re intrigued by this book, I won’t go into details about the plot other than to say it’s got an unhappy guitarist, a cursed guitar that attacks people it perceives to be a threat, and a mysterious woman (Diego’s soul mate) who appears out of nowhere and becomes increasingly possessed by a wicked/evil force.
This is the kind of story that’s right up my alley; guitar gods and a hint of the paranormal, everything I love rolled into one intriguing tale. Unfortunately, and I’m going to be brutally honest here, the story didn’t turn out to be anywhere near as great as I had hoped. In fact, I was actually confused as there are things in the plot that just don’t add up. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I missed something, or maybe it’s just that the story is too clever for me to understand. Whatever the case, I didn’t get it.
Diego wants to find true love but the guitar is stopping him from experiencing true love with the mystery woman/soul mate. Unfortunately, it just seems a little too convenient and coincidental that the cursed guitar comes into Diego’s life at the very same time as his mystery woman/soul mate…
Personally, I think one of the key ingredients in a successful story is great characters. I’m not saying we have to like every character that appears in every book, we don’t. But as readers we do have to have some understanding of the reasons why characters behave the way they behave, and why they do the things that they do. I didn’t get this with Diego. I didn’t understand him, which meant I couldn’t empathize with him, which ultimately made me not really care about him.
I think the main reason for this this that the writer gives us no hint as to Diego’s backstory. This story is all about the plot, not about characterization. It’s about the ‘what’, not about the ‘why’. Even in a short story, I personally like to know about the ‘why’.
Finally, a quick word about tone and style. The writer’s simplistic style is certainly the best choice for this story as is makes for a quick and easy read. Logically, it should also make for a satisfying read; however, there’s something about the style that’s a little too clinical for me, a little too perfunctory. Consequently, I didn’t get swept up in the story. I didn’t lose myself in the time, the place, or the characters, which is disappointing because like I said, this book had a bunch of elements that I love in a good read.